Dock Stewed with Pigs' Feet

Yesterday, despite the snow and cold, I took my bike out to survey dock.  I'm anxious to pick my first green forage of the year, and to get cookin'.   But, it is still winter, especially here, where snow is a real possibility long after most other places feel their feet are firmly planted in spring.  Much to my surprise, tiny little fingers of dock are starting to push through the ground.  At 1-2" tall, they are still too small to pick, but I enjoyed the sign of good eating to come.  Until then, I'm reposting an archived recipe which uses dock in honor of Wild Things in March.


Last year was my year of discovery with foraging.  I did my best to reach out to all of the new tastes and textures that surround me, to learn and explore.  But now, with that experience under my belt, I'm finding that this year of foraging is already quite different.  This year, the forage itself is informing my cooking.  Gone are the days of recipes and shopping trips.  Now, meals come together in a union of what I have in the pantry or freezer and what I can pick fresh.  It feels so natural and easy.

Yesterday was warm and windy, utterly spring.  But today dawned cold and cloudy and smelling of snow (also utterly spring if you are from around here).  When I saw the clammy weather,  I said to myself that a stewed or long cooked dish would taste best on a cold day.  Next, I thought about what I had on hand.  I knew that there were pig's feet, well suited to a slow cook, in the freezer.  But what to go with it?  Well, you can hardly take a step in my neighborhood at the moment without stepping on the leafy green known as dock.

And like the storm brewing outside, the recipe took shape.  I hopped on my bike a shredded some path down to my favorite dock picking spot - a protected nook under an underpass, the salty ground next to a minor ditch.  I plucked off dock leaves in the fog until my hands were numb with cold, and returned home with a bag stuffed with nearly four pounds of meaty, lemony leaves. 

Dock Stewed with Pig's Feet

This is a simple country dish, as old as time.  The point isn't really to use dock, specifically.  Look outside your door, and utilize whatever leafy green is growing like wildfire.  Since the greens are stewed here, it's a dish that works particularly well with older and tougher leaves.

Start by sauteing a thickly sliced onion (in lard) in a large pot until it is soft and lightly brown..  Throw one or two pig's feet in the pot, and let them take on some brown for flavor as well.

In the meantime, fill a sink with water and a few spoonfuls of vinegar, and throw your freshly picked dock in for a bath.  Swish the leaves around, and then let them sit for a minute so that the dirt settles to the bottom of the sink.

Pull the dock out of its bath by the handful, and while still dripping wet, use a pair of scissors to cut it into the pot in roughly 2" sections.  Keep going in batches, stirring the pot as you go, until all of the dock is incorporated and lightly wilted.

Throw the contents of the pot into a crock pot, and cook on low heat for at least 4 hours.  After cooking, pick any meat off the pigs feet and add back to the dock.  Season with salt and pepper.  The dock has a natural tartness, so I don't find it necessary to add a finishing touch of vinegar (but if your local greens aren't acidic, a splash of vinegar or lemon juice will really lift this long-cooked dish).

Serve over cornbread.  Your stewed greens are likely to look like some sort of swamp slime after hours in the pot.  But this food posses a charm born of honest goodness, which body slams beauty any day.

I'm sharing the wild piggy goodness with Pennywise Platter Thursday, and Fight Back Friday.

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